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School Councils

Questions & Answers on School Councils

Part Two: Legal Responsibilities
A. Establishment of Councils

Are all schools required to establish a school council?
Yes. The law requires that there be a school council "at each public elementary, secondary and independent vocational school in the Commonwealth."
If a principal is responsible for more than one school, does a separate council have to be formed for each school?
The law requires each school to have a school council. If two school buildings are linked operationally -- for example, one principal is responsible for one building serving students in grades K-3 and a second building serving students grades 4-6, and the buildings are under a shared administration and a single PTO -- then a single school council may be formed to encompass both buildings. However, if the two buildings function as discrete schools -- for example, one principal is responsible for two K-6 elementary schools with separate administrations and separate PTOs -- then a separate council should be formed for each school.
If a school district has several small schools under the leadership of the same principal, must he/she be the chair of each school's council?
Yes. The law requires the principal to be one of the two co-chairs of the council. The other co-chair is to be selected by the council as a whole rather than appointed by the principal. Councils can set their own internal rules of operation, including rotating responsibilities for the co-chairs.
Who is responsible for organizing a school council?
The law explicitly gives the school principal responsibility for defining the composition and overseeing the formation of the council pursuant to a representative process approved by the superintendent and school committee. As co-chair of the council, the principal is also responsible for convening the first meeting of the council. At this meeting, the other co-chair is to be selected.
To whom do councils report?
Councils are to assist principals by reviewing the school building budget and developing the school improvement plan. Councils may also take on other responsibilities, including policymaking, as granted by the local school committee. Councils' school improvement plans are submitted to the local school committee for review and approval.

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Last Updated: January 27, 1994
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